Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys are traveling thousands of miles from H.Q. this year to share smiles, shake hands and make geocaching memories at more than a dozen Mega-Events worldwide. Dani Isbell, a.k.a. Dani, attended the Mega-Event GeoWoodstock IX in Warren, Pennsylvania, USA. Dani has been a Lackey since 2009. This is her account of GeoWoodstock IX.
Our adventure started with a four hour delay in Chicago due to inclement weather. MissJenn and I finally arrived at our hotel in Warren, Pennsylvania around two in the morning. Then it was up at ‘em and by 8AM to get to our first event, the “Geowoodstock Express.” This pre-Geowoodstock event had more than 500 geocachers in attendance to mingle and ride the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad through the Oil Creek Valley.
MissJenn and I, never ones to shy away from the dramatic, make our grand entrance by running for the train as it is about to take off. We had gotten a bit turned around by the area, the road construction and misleading train tracks. We finally found our way and climbed aboard to much laughter at the Lackeys who were unable to navigate. We laughed at ourselves as well and were welcomed with open arms. The train took off from Titusville at Perry Street Station and ended at Petroleum Centre Station in Oil Creek State Park. When we arrived at Petroleum Centre Station, we were greeted with a great buffet spread, warm smiles and helpful park staff who loved having so many geocachers in town!
The train ride back was full of chatter as we made new friends and reconnected with old ones. People were also busy sending postcards from the train back to family and friends. That’s right… FROM the train! The Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad operates the only working Railway Post Office in the United States. I could not think of a better way to get to know the history and neighborhood we were visiting.
After the train ride event, I received a message from Jessie. a.k.a. Foxfire, from Groundspeak HQ in Seattle. The message I received was that gooseygal, a lovely cacher I had met hours earlier, was in a pickle! Her car had broken down on the way back to her campsite from the event. If that wasn’t bad enough, her poor dog was stuck in her camper! She was worried that her dog would overheat and not be able to go outside for another several hours. Uncomfortable at best and at worse, well, I’d call every number I had too! She made a call to a number she knew, in Seattle, hoping the message would reach me in Pennsylvania. More than two thousand miles and back, the message was received!
I was with the infamous Keystone at the time who bolted back to the campsite to check on gooseygal’s dog. Luckily, gooseygal and her friend were not far behind Keystone, but the help was much appreciated. This is just one example of thousands of how the geocaching community is truly amazing!
The main event, Geowoodstock IX, followed the next day. After catching up on some sleep, MissJenn and I arrived at the main event bright and early. We were immediately greeted by old and new friends. It was wonderful meeting so many people the day before. It made all of the new friends met at Geowoodstock a little less overwhelming.
There were so many things to see and do!
The “Meet the Reviewer” panel was a great opportunity for many players to put a face to the name that is always next to their “Published by” logs on their caches as well as to ask some of those burning questions they’ve wanted to ask. On-going activities such as GPS accuracy tests, Trackable logging and trading, merchandise purchasing and the Geo-Bingo Icebreaker game kept all busy throughout the day. If that wasn’t enough, live music, various classes, kids’ activities and a Geo-Poker tournament ensured that there was a little something for everyone.
It’s always a bit surreal to attend a Mega even as a Lackey. There’s this recognition and appreciation from geocachers who are just so happy to meet you. Perhaps the surreal part on their end is how equally happy I am to meet them! I love meeting the community that makes geocaching their life and passion. It’s not about the finds. It’s truly about the people you meet.
You can also find a Lackey at one of these upcoming Mega-Events:
HQ in Washington State, USA – Groundspeak Block Party
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany – Geocoinfest Europa
Catalunya, Spain – Mega Event Catalunya
South Carolina, USA – Geocoinfest